A new investigation into the city's private waste management system offers an alarming look at how one trash-hauling company has managed to evade regulatory oversight, despite repeated complaints from workers about dangerous conditions and egregious exploitation.

The lengthy exposé, co-published Monday by ProPublica and Voice of America, looks at Sanitation Salvage, a Bronx-based carting company run for decades by the wealthy and politically-connected Squitieri brothers. According to reporter Kiera Feldman, the three brothers are "profane taskmasters who push a small army of drivers and off-the-books workers through grueling shifts of 18 hours or longer." Drawing on thousands of pages of public documents and interviews with over a dozen employees, the reporter found that the company "cuts a distinctively brutish profile," even amid the typically dangerous world of private garbage pick-up. (In New York, municipal workers pick up residential trash, while a web of private contractors handle commercial waste.)

A driver for the company has fatally struck two people in the last six months, one of whom was an employee of the company, and the other an elderly pedestrian. In response, City Council members, Teamsters, and safe streets advocates rallied last month outside the Business Integrity Commission [BIC], which oversees the private waste industry, to demand that the company's license be revoked.

"Why has BIC never, never, ever denied or suspended a hauler for a pattern and practice of unsafe [driving] and a complete disregard for safety standards?" Council member Antonio Reynoso, who chairs the council's Sanitation Committee, asked at last month's rally.

Speaking at a City Council hearing last year, BIC Commissioner Daniel Brownell said, "We continue to work collaboratively with leaders from the trade waste industry taking to heart the belief that since running their companies in the city is difficult enough, they should not have to labor under unnecessarily burdensome regulations from BIC."

According to several former and current employees who spoke with Feldman, the Squitieri family—whose members serve on the board of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, as the president of the North Bronx Democratic Club, and as major local donors—are too powerful to face consequences. Despite receiving multiple complaints from workers alleging their bosses were committing wage theft, creating unsafe conditions, and forcing employees into a sham union run by a convicted mobster, the BIC has consistently renewed the company's license.

Even after it was revealed last month that the man who was struck by a Sanitation Salvage driver was actually an off-the-books employee (and not, as the driver initially claimed, a crazed homeless man), the regulator did nothing to sanction the company. However, recent scrutiny did force Commissioner Brownell to meet with about a dozen mistreated workers earlier this year:

The stories began pouring out: men who worked for years off the books, paid $80 per night; workers logging upwards of 85 or 90 hours a week; the timesheet that the bosses changed so that they weren’t paid for all their hours; a white supervisor using racial slurs against the black and Hispanic workers; supervisors forcing them to keep working through major injuries; supervisors telling them to take taxis to the hospital instead of ambulances—and then to lie and say they weren’t hurt on the job; medical insurance cards that were mysteriously rejected; the way the Squitieri brothers loaned workers money, which kept them indebted to the bosses, they said, and thus under management’s control.

Last month, Brownell told us that the agency was investigating the company, adding, "If this investigation finds that Sanitation Salvage should no longer be operating on our streets, BIC can initiate the process to revoke the company's license." We've reached out to Brownell to see if the new report will impact the status of that investigation.

You can—and should—read the full report here.